Tonawanda News

Features

January 31, 2011

Should you feed your cold?

It’s that time of year again. Time for the sniffles, the congestion, that nagging cough. It’s winter and everyone’s getting sick with whatever it is that’s “going around.”

Whether it’s the flu or a simple head cold, ask anyone ... they’ve all got some remedy passed down from their mother’s mother’s mother and so on. Some are common knowledge — and thus are assumed to be true — while others sound downright absurd.

Dr. Semira Khawar at Ken-Ton Family Care in the Town of Tonawanda weighs in on some of this medical folklore and tells the Tonawanda News what works and what doesn’t. Spoiler alert: Not a lot.

• Feed a cold and starve a fever. Maybe the ultimate old wives’ tale, a common theory is to force yourself to eat even if you lose your appetite which is common when you have a cold. On the other side of the coin, this adage says the patient should avoid eating if a fever is present.

Khawar says this common saying has absolutely no validity to it and that those who are ill with a cold or fever should eat if and when they feel like it. To her, the key is keeping hydrated.

“You want to prevent yourself from being dehydrated. (If you’re sick), you are mouth breathing most of the time and you’re sweating if you have a mild fever ... but you want to keep yourself hydrated,” Khawar said.

While it may not be pleasant dinner conversation, Khawar says keeping a good eye on the color of your urine is the best way to prevent dehydration. If you’re properly hydrated, normal colored urine is light yellow and should not be darker. Additionally, you should be urinating every three to five hours. Any longer and you should be taking in more fluids.

• Drink honey with tea or gargle with salt water for a sore throat. Khawar concedes that drinking honeyed tea and gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat but that’s about it.

“There’s no scientific research that shows that it does ... . You have to understand that there’s a pathologic basis for (the illness) — viral, bacterial. If it’s viral, that is going to take its course, if it’s bacterial you take antibiotics,” Khawar said.

Basically, tea, salt water, cough drops and things of this sort provide symptom relief but not treatment. Even over-the-counter medications do nothing to shorten the length of the illness when it comes to colds.

“You’re going to take medications that are comforting but they’re not going to shorten the period and they’re not going to cure it,” Khawar said.

• Be sure to take your Vitameatavegamin. There are lots of theories about vitamins and what they can do to help you out with a cold. Some believe that taking vitamin C, echinacea and zinc, among others, can help prevent a cold or the flu or even cut the illness short.

Not so, says Khawar.

“No real hard-core studies have proven them to be beneficial. Zinc can be a little harmful ... like Zicam, if you spray it in your nose, it can cause loss of smell. So you should be careful,” Khawar said.

But what about orange juice? Well, it helps to keep you hydrated, but that’s the extent of its helpfulness.

• Eat chicken noodle soup. Khawar points out that this remedy is more than just a wives’ tale. The University of Nebraska did a study that shows there is actually some amount of improvement in cold patients who eat chicken noodle soup.

The doctor adds that it doesn’t hurt that the soup is largely a liquid and can help keep you hydrated, so go ahead and slurp up if you have the appetite.

 “Again you want to be drinking ... chicken noodle soup is liquid, it’s warm, it’s soothing and it may be somewhat beneficial.”

• Neti pot ... as seen on TV. Another home remedy that Khawar recommends to her patients is the neti pot. The device has seen an increase in attention and popularity with recent television infomercials, but Khawar says it actually helps, especially with allergies.

“It helps to wash out the virus that tends to live in your nose. Also, the pollen and allergens that are in the air, they go into the nose if you rinse your nose, I think it helps,” Khawar said.

• “You’ll catch your death ...” Mom and grandma always tell you to bundle up before heading outside. If you’re not completely adorned with coat, scarf, gloves, hat and long underwear, they’ll threaten you with the prospect of catching a cold.

But it’s not actually the act of being outside in the cold that makes you sick, says Khawar. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

“What happens is that you see a rise in cold and flu outbreaks more in the autumn and winter months,” Khawar said. “But we feel that it’s mostly because people are more indoors and they have closer contact (with other people) than usual and that is why the outbreaks occur.”

1
Text Only
Features
  • SUN LIFE Open gardens 1 072014.jpg Stop and smell the flowers

    More than 90 private gardens throughout Western New York, and a number of public ones, are open to the public for select hours Thursdays and/or Fridays during July as part of the National Garden Festival’s Open Gardens program, now in its fifth year. The program is separate and distinct from local garden walks, and the gardens range from Gasport to Holland. They’re organized into districts of about five to eight gardens each, including Northtowns West (which includes gardens in Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda) and Niagara Trail (which includes gardens in Lockport, Gasport and Lewiston).

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE terrariums 1 072014.jpg For the love of nature

    Sara Johnson lives surrounded by green and growing things. Showing a visitor around her apartment in North Buffalo, she pointed out the plants in every room, the balcony and even in two small greenhouses — houseplants, flowers, vegetables, even carnivorous plants.

    "I try to keep as much growing in the house as I can," she said.

    Another goal of hers is to show others how to do the same — and to that end, Johnson is offering a series of workshops this summer in connection with her business, Sylvatica Terrariums, and Project 308 Gallery in North Tonawanda, teaching people how to bring a piece of the outdoors into their homes in the form of a terrarium or other greenery.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE fresh air 1 072014.JPG Getting some fresh air

    As an effort to get children out of the big city and give them a chance to spend part of their summer playing outside, the Fresh Air Fund brings New York City kids to stay with host families for a 10-day trip to a place which is vastly different from their usually surroundings.

    “They will be running outside and playing in the grass and going swimming,” said Cheryl Flick, a fund representative of the Northern Erie and Niagara Counties chapter of the Fresh Air Fund at a picnic for the host families and kids. “They won’t be cooped up inside, they’ll be outside, getting fresh air and being active.”

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - SUN LIFE double trouble 2014.jpg Still waiting for that letter from Hogwarts

    I think it’s true of many parents, that amidst the many challenges and hard work of parenting, we anticipate the day our children grow up just enough ... to like the same things we like, whether it’s as an ongoing phenomenon or a fond childhood memory.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Calling all the basic locavores!

    Did you know that the suffix “vore” comes from the Latin word “voro,” which means to devour? I probably knew that once, but I should have paid better attention in my Latin class. “Vore” is used to form nouns indicating what kind of a diet an animal has, such as omnivore, carnivore and herbivore.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE NT tours 071314.jpg A closer look at NT

    When Explore Buffalo Tours got started about eight months ago, the business concentrated on specialized tours designed to showcase specific aspects of the City of Buffalo’s history, architecture and culture.

    Now the organization is looking to the future and trying out ways to highlight the other unique aspects of the Western New York region. The tours change out each month, but the more popular ones will circulate back in, according to Explore Buffalo Executive Director Brad Hahn. This month it’s test-driving its “North Tonawanda: Lumber City” tour, one of only a few to take place outside the City of Buffalo. (Although a Lockport tour is in the works.)

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFEe exercise 2 071314.jpg Fitness in the sun

     Following a trend of public, outdoor exercise programs, a number of local venues are offering their own free events aiming to get residents outside and active during the summer.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE muscoreils 1 071314.jpg Beyond the bakery

    For years, Muscoreil’s Fine Desserts & Gourmet Cakes has been a go-to location for desserts and wedding and occasion cakes in Western New York.

    This summer, even as the bakery deals with the rush of wedding season, changes at its associated bistro aim to create a revitalized focus on that side of the business, as well.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - Crib Notes 2014 RGB.jpg Figuring out the birthday-party rules

    The options when you escort your child to a birthday party are endless, really. Everywhere you turn, there’s another thrill to uncover.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB The tail of two books

    As promised, here are some more new summer reads that are all about our critter companions. Both books were released mid-June, and although they are quite different from one another, both would be valuable assets for your in-house library.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Facebook
Front page
NDN Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands